Domaine de la Janasse, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tradition 2018, Rhone Valley, France

Over the last quarter century, Domaine de la Janasse has become one of the most highly regarded estates in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Led by siblings Christophe and Isabelle Sabon, the estate combines the best of both traditional and modern techniques to craft a collection of truly riveting wines from ‘simple’ value-priced VDP’s to their benchmark Châteauneufs. The estate was founded in 1976 by Aimé Sabon, the father of Christophe and Isabelle, who still oversees the vineyards. The property consists of 40 hectares, spread over as many as 70 different parcels throughout the appellation. The terroirs range from sandy soils, as can be found in their well-known plots in the North of the appellation – Chapouin and La Janasse – to lightly-colored clay limestone soils and gravelly red clay and galets, most notable in their plots in Le Crau in the South. While Aimé works the vineyards organically, his children, Christophe and Isabelle, are in charge of wine production. Christophe is a self-proclaimed ‘great defender of Grenache,’ which still represents 75% of their vines. The reds from Janasse are frequently considered to be among the best in the region whether it is their pleasingly complex Côtes-du-Rhone and Côtes-du-Rhône Villages or their three bottlings of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Not surprisingly the aptly named Tradition is the most reserved of their Châteauneufs while Chaupin and Vieilles Vignes are studies in contrast, between the purity of Grenache from sandy soil clearly evident in the former, to the intensity and power of the later – an indication of the age of the vines, the range of soils from which they are sourced and the density afforded by the addition of old-vine Syrah and Mourvèdre to their centenary Grenache. Blend – 65% old Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, 5% Cinsault. This cuvée comes from several different terroirs (sand, rolled pebbles, red clay) located on the northern part of the appellation and on the plateau of La Crau. Manual harvest with sorting in the vineyards. 80% destemming, then maceration for 21-28 days with daily manual pressing. 80% ages in foudres and 20% in barrels, 1/3 new, for 12 months. Tasting: With an ample and structured substance, this cuvée is well-balanced, with notes of black fruits, combined with aromas of violets, and with a long and silky mouth.